I have some opinions on how to establish breastfeeding with a newborn, and I want to mention them. I know most of the ladies reading here are expert breastfeeders and don't need my advice, but I'm going to put a label below that might come up on a google search and perhaps my thoughts will help a beginner.
HOW TO BREASTFEED:
Step 1. In the hospital. Bring Lansinoh goop in a tube and smear a little bit, about the size of half a pea, onto your nipple just prior to the first latch after they hand you the baby. If you do this, you may be able to avoid the initial soreness that comes on like gangbusters at the *second* feeding. Make sure baby opens his/her mouth as wide as possible and flatten the breast into a little oval, crosswise to the baby's mouth, and present it like a sandwich. That way you get the nipple in as deep as possible to avoid baby sucking on the tip and hopefully avoiding more soreness issues. If you do get cracked, bleeding, scabbed-up nipples, understand that you can continue to breastfeed despite the scabs. Just work harder to get the nipple in farther, repeat the steps above, if the latch is more painful than usual, or if the pain doesn't subside after a few minutes of nursing, take the baby off and try to latch better, with a wider mouth and deeper nipple.
Step 2. Home with baby. My milk usually doesn't "come in" until day 3 or so. So expect baby to be hungry and fussy for the first few days. Know that baby is getting colostrum. Even a tiny amount of colostrum is very very healthy for baby. It is loaded with immunities and acts to help clear the black-tar poop out of their system. The sooner the black tar gets out of them, the sooner any jaundice/bilirubin issues will be resolved. Resist the urge to use a pacifier or give formula. Plastic nipples are the first step toward quitting breastfeeding. Same goes for nipple shields. Once baby gets a taste for plastic, it can be darned near impossible to get them back on the breast. All of my baby's pacifying was done on the breast. Despite sore/scabbed nipples. I knew he was getting colostrom/early milk every time, and I knew it was good for him.
Step 3. Milk comes in. There will be parts of your breast that become engorged. Some of the ducts may not empty as well as others. Frequent nursing is a way to help alleviate engorgement. If you can nurse frequently and keep most of the breast tissue soft, then you will avoid having your milk supply cut back on you. If your breast becomes painfully engorged and hard to the touch, know that it will get better on it's own in a few days, but that process will involve a drastic reduction in milk supply from the engorged duct areas. I was lucky with this little one. He was able to nurse for long periods, even while dozing, and he was able to empty my breast fairly well for a newborn. Many newborns are sleepy, and you may need to stimulate them to nurse better and not start to sleep after a few sucks. This is done by unwrapping them from the swaddle, or even undressing them from their clothes altogether. Whatever it takes. In a week or so their appetite will improve. And you want your milk supply to be there for them when that happens.
Step 4. Building up milk supply. Now is not the time for a drastic diet. Baby's appetite increases during the early weeks/months, and you need to increase your supply to keep up. This should happen without you even realizing. You might simply notice that baby's diapers are getting fuller and heavier over the weeks. If you see that your breasts seem "empty" and baby still wants to nurse more, go ahead and nurse. The breasts are never empty. And the extra nursing will stimulate more milk production. Also, remember to drink frequently. You should probably have a nice, tall drink every time you sit down to nurse. And eat healthy food and snacks. Never go hungry. And take your vitamins and extra calcium.
Step 5. Extra questions and other circumstances. Get yourself a support system. Get some good books. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a good one. It is the central book put out by the La Leche League. Join La Leche in your area, or seek help from a lactation consultant. It is even better to get to know your support people in late pregnancy, since the first week is the hardest, and it is easier to get help from people you already know. Keep an eye out for baby's diapers. The baby should have pee pee and poo poo in his/her diaper frequently. If this is not happening, seek help right away. Remember, the most important thing is to nourish the baby. Of course, the baby will not be filling up too many diapers until after the milk comes in, but after that if you don't notice a big change, seek help from your doc or lactation consultant right away. Breastfeeding is great, but nourishing the baby is the MOST IMPORTANT thing above all, and don't let pride stop you from making sure your baby is getting the food he/she needs. Just like we all want a natural birth but we are willing to have a c-section for the health of the baby, we all want to breastfeed but we are willing to use formula if it is necessary for the health of the baby. I heard of a case where a woman who had had breast reduction surgery exclusively breastfed her baby and the baby ended up starving to death. Inexcusable. If a mom is paying attention to diapers and the baby's weight, that should NEVER happen.
Verification. The baby should be back up to its birth weight by the 2-week pediatrician appointment. Very successful babies can be a full pound over the birth weight by then.
Don't take baby off the breast too early. The hind milk is the richest milk. If the baby only gets the early stuff and pops off too soon, then they will get "too much soup and not enough cheesecake" somebody said. So let them doze and suck as long as they want, getting multiple let-downs of milk if possible.